5 Principles of Moving Church Online

Most of us have worked hard over the last couple of weeks in the light of the COVID crisis to pivot our ministries online. While this has been a scramble, it might be time to stop and think about what we are doing. Here is a few principles I think we need to think through.

This is a unique place in history. It is unique place in Christian History. Yes, we have had plagues and pandemics before but we have never had the tools we currently have to make Christ known. This means we are all making it up. If you are seeking to judge what you are doing from what others are doing you need to keep in mind they are also making things up. We aren’t going to work out what is going to work for sometime. So here are some guidelines for what we can do in the meantime.

1. Play to Your Strengths and not Other People’s

One of the dangers here is that we can all see what each one of us is doing. This means we can all seeking to compare. Stealing ideas from each other is a good thing, playing the comparison game is not. So you need to work out what do you do well and do that. Are you better streaming, or do you get flustered by the pressure?

We could do the streaming thing, but we do the prerecording thing better. Our Youth minister does the streaming thing better so he does that.

2. *People want a Pastor and not a Rock Star*

While quality is important, people want to be connected to people and know that you love them. This is true at any time, but more so now.

My suggestion is if you need to spend less time on production and more time with people, then do that. Your people will love you more for it.

3. Make sure you can do this Week in and Week out.

Whatever your workflow is for making whatever you need, make sure you can keep it up. It looks like we will be doing this for a while. So we need to make sure we can do it for a while. This means that what we are doing may evolve as we get better at what we are doing. We may need to do less of something.

Whatever happens, this is a long term game and we need to be running for a marathon and not a sprint.

4. Half of what You see is What You Hear

I used to work with an editor who you used to say this all the time. I wasn’t sure what he meant until I did a project that had really bad sound and then I realised. Bad sound can distract from anything that you are seeing.

Most phones these days make exceptionally great cameras. However, microphones have not really kept up. Our ears do a great job of selecting out noise and echoes. Our phones do not. But we are people of the Word and we want people to hear. You may not be able to afford a great microphone system (we have adapted our sound system from church to use what we have). But you can think about where you are recording. Avoid reflective surfaces like tiles (NO!), glass, wooden floors, did I mention tiles?

5. You could be a talking head, but why?

Probably the easiest thing to do right now is to set up your phone on a tripod (or taped to a chair) and talk into it. But there is so much more you could do. Why are you using the background that you are? Would this be better if you were standing up or setting down? Even the most basic editing system has graphics, what do you want to use? Do you want to include interviews, why not do it over Zoom to people’s houses so others can see or get mission partners to send videos?

Going online, we have the ability to different things to what we can do live. So why not use this?

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